Day Trips

Day 10 – Tuscany Tour

Posted on July 9, 2014

Siena, San Gimingnano and Pisa, oh my!

Wow, this was the biggest day yet. We booked a Tuscany Tour which took us by bus from Florence to Siena, San Gimingnano and Pisa. It was really nice to see more of the countryside and landscapes after being in cities for so long.

The day started very early (up before 7) as we got ready and made our way to the meeting point for the tour. Once checked in, we boarded the bus and shortly after began our journey.

Siena

One thing that was really nice going on this tour (as opposed to just going to places unguided) was the information they tell you about the locations. The history and the culture is all well-explained and it makes the sites more interesting and exciting.

Our first destination was Siena, which was a little over an hour away from Florence. It’s a fairly small city and has some really interesting history and traditions (I won’t bother recounting it here – look it up if you want).

When we arrived, we were shown through the city and given a guided tour of the main church. First, the oldest bank in the world.

The oldest bank in the world.

The oldest bank in the world.

Next we walked to the main city square where the massive horse race (Palio) is held twice a year. An interesting tradition.

Piazza del Campo.

Lastly, we stopped at the main church and took a look around and inside. Another huge and interesting church (Italy has a lot of these). Here’s a few photos.

Fattoria Poggio Alloro

After Siena, we headed to a farm just outside of San Gimignano to look around and have some lunch made from the fresh organic ingredients they produce. It was a huge farm and had a great view of the countryside and of our next destination, San Gimignano.

We were shown where they collect and make their wine, as well as the cows they breed for meat. After a quick look around, we sat down for a nice lunch of breads, pasta, salad and cheese.

San Gimignano

It was only a 10 minute drive from the farm to the city. Unfortunately we didn’t have too long there, but it’s a fairly small city so there isn’t too much to see.

They do have the “worlds best gelato” though, so we had to give that a try. I wouldn’t call it the best, but it was very good. We wanted to climb the town hall tower (tallest in the city) and see the 360 view of the area but the line was taking too long and we had to get back to the bus and move on. A little disappointing. We did start a new game though. It’s “Where’s Wally?”, except with Adam.

Pisa

Our last stop on the tour was Pisa. We had an hour to look around there and again were hoping to climb the Leaning Tower but it was sold out (apparently you should pre-book). Instead we just looked around at the tower and the church in the area.

At one point shortly before we left, I saw someone who looked a lot like Glen Hansard. So I said to Adam, “Hey look, it’s Glen Hansard”. When he got closer, we noticed it was Glen Hansard.

First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, that’s ridiculous; what are the odds of that? We were only in Pisa for an hour or so and he just happened to be walking down the street. We didn’t want to bother him, so just said we enjoyed his Brisbane show (which incidentally you can read about here). It was a nice way to end the day.

From there we simply headed back to Florence and to our apartment, stopping for dinner on the way. I had a chicken burger if you’d like to know – nice to have a change from the constant pizza and pasta (not that I’m sick of it, it’s just nice to have some chicken).

Day 9 – Bologna

Posted on July 8, 2014

Train tickets are expensive.

Today we decided to take the train to Bologna. And so we did. We walked to the train station and took the 40 minute journey. I didn’t really know what to expect and we had no clue of where to go and what to see while we were there.

When we did arrive, we were hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant first. Since we were in Bologna, I thought it wise to get Spaghetti Bolognese. It was sizable and quite nice – but not the best. That sums up my experience of Bologna actually. It wasn’t too impressive or interesting, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we didn’t know where we were going. We just walked around and found what we could.

There were some interesting things to see, though I only got a few photos.